Alex Caruso expects to play against Miami ‘until my body tells me that I can't'

Alex Caruso expects to play against Miami ‘until my body tells me that I can’t’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

CHICAGO — Alex Caruso got tangled up with Andre Drummond in the second quarter of Wednesday’s play-in game against the Hawks, forcing him to leave the game with an ankle injury — the same ankle he’d been nursing towards the end of the regular season.

“(Drummond) caught me on my right foot that kinda gave out (and) my left one tried to catch me,” Caruso said after the game. “Just kind of tweaked my ankle a little bit — that same one I was dealing with for the last couple weeks of the season that we were managing and figuring out.”

Caruso exited the game to the locker room, where the training staff taped his ankle. He also took Tylenol to try and relieve the pain. In a do-or-die game for the Bulls, Caruso wanted to be on the floor.

He eventually returned, trying to make a second effort, but it didn’t work. He wasn’t moving correctly on the floor. Billy Donovan pulled Caruso out and he didn’t play the rest of the game.

“He said to me ‘Listen, I’m gonna try to go here but I’ll let you know,'” Billy Donovan said postgame. “I thought he was a little bit hobbled. And then I grabbed him before the third (quarter) started and he said ‘Let me give it one more try.’ I just didn’t like the way he was moving. I took him off, he didn’t ask to come out.”

Luckily, Coby White’s 42-point explosion — along with 65 combined points from DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Ayo Dosunmu — catapulted the Bulls to a win over the Hawks, advancing them in the play-in tournament.

Caruso’s defense was greatly appreciated early on, as he helped the Bulls force Trae Young into five turnovers in the first frame. His defensive powers and 3-point shooting also helped stymie the Hawks into an 18-point first-quarter deficit.

But the Bulls have their eyes fixated on their next play-in game against the Heat on Friday, which Caruso expects to play in. He portrayed the exact mentality Bulls fans would expect from the hard-nosed, resilient Caruso they’ve seen play through injury all season.

“I do (expect to play) until I can’t,” Caruso said. “We’ll see how it goes in the next couple of days. My mindset is to play until my body tells me that I can’t.”

His plan leading up to that game is rest, treatment, compression and keeping the swelling down; Caruso said he doesn’t usually swell, however. The Bulls are already down Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams for the season. Dosunmu and Drummond both came into Wednesday’s game questionable, too.

The Bulls can’t afford any more injury. But they’re not alone in that boat. The Heat saw Jimmy Butler suffer what could be a significant MCL injury during their play-in game against the 76ers, according to multiple reports. He was seen walking extremely carefully leaving the arena on Wednesday.

Should Butler be sidelined for Friday’s game, it would be a significant loss for the Heat. But, as Caruso said, “They still got plenty of talented guys, capable guys that can play.”

The Bulls hope to use their experience from playing against the Heat this season and from last year’s play-in game to earn a berth as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs — a feat they haven’t achieved since the 2021-22 season.

Hopefully we can use a little bit of that experience and go in, take care of business,” Caruso said. “We’ve played close games with them just about every year I’ve been here at their place. We know what to expect.”

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